Could we have a Data Suggestion for Females with spouse and Current Last Name is same as LNAB

+4 votes
Could we have a Data Suggestion for Females who have a linked spouse, but the spouse’s Last Name is not the Current Last Name or in Other Last Name for the female?

Searches return people using one of the Last Name fields.  There are a lot of females that have a Spouse linked, but their Current Last Name is the same as the Last Name at Birth because Current last Name was not updated with Married Name, when profile was created and Married Name is different.

Therefore, Searches will not return many females because their Married Name is not in the Current Last Name or Other Last Name fields.

If we had an error when Spouse Last Name is not in a Last Name Field, they are a Female, and they have a Linked Spouse, I think that would help alleviate some of the many duplicates that are being created and help people find ancestors

Edited question, etc above for clarification.  Added my profile ID since I have removed my spouse’s name from my Current Last Name field to show the problem and I use my married name.
WikiTree profile: Ross Anderson Carruth
in The Tree House by Linda Peterson G2G6 Pilot (543k points)
edited by Linda Peterson
I have a profile in which the LNAB is Brown. The Current and Married Name is also Brown. I wonder if there are others like mine.
I've recently added sources to a profile where the bride's LNAB was the same as her new spouse.  (There may be a family relationship somewhere, but it's not my family line so I have not investigated it in any depth.)
Oh, yeah .. my CLN is the same as LNAB and I've been married twice.
I have seen plenty of people where the married name is the same as the Birth Name, but there are a lot more that do not have the married name in the Current Last Name field.  There are also people that have taken back a maiden name after a Divorce or never took the spouse name, but those are more of the rarity, I think.  

If a suggestion is created and the Married name or Current Last Name is the same as Maiden name, then the suggestion would just be marked as a False Suggestion.

No, please don't do this.

FamilySearch thinks like you do: if the mother's surname matches the father's, they delete it from the indexed record. This results in thousands of extra errors in their indexes, because they do this even in places and times where the mother's surname entered in the register is always and only her maiden name.

The custom of a woman adopting her husband's family name as her own is by no means universal. Many, many places do things entirely differently. Please don't increase WT's Anglo-centric tendencies!

I totally agree with this. I also really hate the FamilySearch practice of "fixing" the patronymics of the nordics automatically from dottir or dotter to son. Women's names which keep changing like they are chattel belonging to their husbands really makes them harder to track in the histories,
In New boston new hampdshire I have at least 19 marriages between a Dodge and a Dodge.


15 Answers

+22 votes
Best answer
There are different naming practices in various parts of the world that don't adhere to the western standard of the woman assuming the man's surname after marriage. I don't know if it would be feasible or advisable to create something like this.
by Debi Matlack G2G6 Mach 7 (79.5k points)
selected by Rakelle Teschner
Agreed, it should probably be done for US profiles, unless another region says it would be checked
Women in the United States also can't be assumed to have used their husbands' names, due to varying cultural practices and national origins. In general, we shouldn't assign a husband's name to a woman unless we have evidence that she used that name (although in much of US history, that's a valid assumption).

Please refrain from arbitrarily changing the current last name for married women the New Netherland region (primarily in New York and New Jersey) prior to 1800 unless there is a record documenting that the woman used her husband's name. Dutch cultural practices prevailed in parts of that area for a long time, and Dutch women didn't use their husbands' names.

And beginning in the second half of the 20th century, please don't guess on a married woman's last name.
Please don't forget hyphenation either.

i.e. Mary Jones marries Peter Smith. She becomes either Mary Smith or Mary Jones-Smith. If something happens to Peter, she becomes either Mary Jones again or keeps her hyphenated name. If she remarries to Ted Doe, she becomes Mary Doe or Mary Jones-Smith-Doe.

And then we have what happens with celebrities, if she has taken a stage name as well... (Mary Jones becomes Felicity Beaumont etc.)
Those situations can be taken care of by using the False Suggestion, as I said initially.  The problem is that there are a lot of profiles that are not being found because the spouse name is NOT in any of the last name fields and people search for someone and can't find them, ie duplicate record is created, either with the Unknown last name or married last name, if the birth name or other name is not found.
No, what happens all too often when something like this is added to the suggestions report is that diligent Data Doctors march through hundreds of profiles changing their last names, which then need to be corrected by other members who would prefer to be doing something productive.

"western standard of the woman assuming the man's surname after marriage"

There is no western standard. Maybe an American standard, but certainly not in many European countires.

In the Netherlands naming nowadays is not male oriented anymore: a husband has the legal right to assume his spouse's surname. The choice of surname thus is free.

It's not even an American standard. The law in the state of Louisiana is exactly as you described in the Netherlands, and always has been-- following the Civil Law of France. Only briefly in more recent times have many women automatically assumed the husband's name. I doubt that the majority do today.
+13 votes
Depending on the era, I believe there is a precedent for keeping your LNAB even though you are married.
by Janet Gunn G2G6 Pilot (103k points)
+11 votes
I think Quebec, Canada profiles should be excluded from this, as I think most women keep their maiden name after marriage.
by S Stevenson G2G6 Pilot (109k points)

See also:  

Your attention on Spouses from Quebec
I have noticed that some wikitreers change the CLN (Currant Last Name) for married women from Quebec.
Please note that in Quebec, a female DO NOT take her husband's name when she marries.  So the LNAB and CLN are the same.

would cause thousands of false errors and be very discouraging.
+11 votes
Lots of cultures did or do not have this thing where the woman takes the mans name - it was I thought the norm too, but it is not - New France it was not done until I believe 1760, New Netherland ladies - most did not take the husbands name - nowadays - I am not sure about percentage but I do know that the taking of the man's last name now is not the thing it once was - it is completely optional and lots of folks take each others and hyphenate - so I do not see this working out for everyone

Now you could put it into Other and that is ok for maximizing search and preventing duplicates but do not put it into current last name unless there is documentation of the woman USING her husbands last name please
by Navarro Mariott G2G6 Pilot (148k points)
+16 votes

All this suggested error could do is cause massive headaches and confusion. Too many chances for mistakes to creep in compared to the likely small amount now. 

There are those that don't take the Husbands name for many reasons and customs and then there are those that married someone with the same last name. 

It would be very hard to program the exceptions to the expectation that a women's Current Last Name and Last name at birth should be different. 

The Suggestions work best when there is a clearly defined problem without having multiple exceptions to the rule. 

by Darren Kellett G2G6 Pilot (165k points)
+9 votes
I don't think this is a problem you think it is unless you can give an example of this error.

If I search for Mary Smith married to Joe Smith, Mary Smiths will appear.

If I search for Mary Smith married to Joe Jones, Mary Smiths will appear.

If I search for Mary Smith married to Joe Unknown, Mary Smiths will appear.

The husbands name does not matter as you are searching for a single person, Mary Smith. Not Mary Smith and Joe Smith as a whole.  The only options on the Search Page are parents of the search subject.  Everyone can be married multiple times and so Spouse's last name is not a search parameter.

Now, you may be confusing how the search engines works as you will also see for search matches for Mary Smith like Mary (Jones) Smith where the Current Last Name (Smith) is used to make the Match though though this Match's LNAB is Jones.  This is correct as she is named as a Smith, though it is not this Match's LNAB.  This is when the husband's or now Mary Jones' Current Last Name is used is used to make a Possible Match.  And while this is a Possible Match, you know Mary Jones Smith is not your Mary Smith.

The WikiTree Search Engine actually tries to not exclude Possible Matches and sometimes seems to go out of its way to give us a bunch of extraneous matches all in the name of avoiding those dreaded duplicates.

Easy right?  Now I will try to explain Quantum Mechanics in less than 5 sentences.....LOL

All kidding aside, if you have an example of a Profile where this error has occurred, please give it so it can be checked out.
by LJ Russell G2G6 Pilot (181k points)
However, if you search for Mary Jones who married Joe Smith to make sure you don't get duplicates, Mary Smith does NOT come up because she is Mary Jones. This causes you to make a profile for Mary Jones and then when you go to enter her parents you find Mary Smith, daughter of Roger Jones when you are doing Roger Jones. This means you now have to merge the work you just did because a match didn't show. I've had this happen at the Grandparent level entering a tree before a match popped up.

It may have to be configured so that it compares a match against her father or a non-match with her children if she was married. The problem isn't that her current last name doesn't match her husband which is the case in many countries, it is that it DOES match her spouse as well as her last name at birth. If it doesn't match her husband, it could skip it.

Was her actual LNAB Jones or Smith?  Did you search for Mary Jones?  In your search parameters were you able to also use the name Smith in the same search at the same time? Also, when did this occur?

Sounds like someone made an erroneous Profile for her using the Current Last Name as the LNAB but still linked her to her correct parents.  No the computer is not going to figure out that Mary Smith was the Mary Jones you were looking for.  If you search for Mary Jones with only a LNAB of Jones and no Current Last Name or a Current Last Name of Jones as well, only Possible Matches that have a First Name of Mary and a LNAB of Jones or a Current Last Name of Jones will appear.  If your search was for First Name: Mary, LNAB: Jones and Current Last Name: Smith then the search engine would have been capable of finding that Mary Jones. Or if the last names were switched to LNAB Smith and Current Last Name Jones.

This wrong Profile can be a problem with GEDCOM created Profiles where the original Tree researcher had the Preferred name in the record set to the married name and did not correct it back to the actual LNAB before creating the file.  I know this as I have accidentally done this and  imported the woman's married name instead of her real last name and had to edit her LNAB to reflect the actual last name.  The person who created the Mary Smith Profile may have done that as well and not caught it in the Profile Cleanup after Importing from a GEDCOM file.

As I can't read Grandma Baum's Profile due to the Privacy Level setting, this is conjecture on my part as I can't see the Changes Record.  Though if you merged the Profiles, the data on the Original "Smith" Profile is lost in the merge which is a problem I wish they could figure out a fix for

Computers are just basically adding machines on steroids when you get down to the 1's and 0's.  LOL
Thanks Melanie.  ;)
Basing it off your original example in this response, her LNAB was probably Jones. However, both LNAB and CLN are entered as Smith. FIXING this problem was the whole idea behind the Data Suggestion at the very top. This would take more than just matching LNAB with CLN because of conventions in other countries. However, if LNAB and CLN matches the spouse's last name then it could trigger a suggestion. Yes, cousins could marry. It is possible they both had the same last name. But more likely is you had a child with a father, and a mother's first name only and wanted to avoid "unknown" so you used the married name as LNAB.

I do find it odd you hunted up my grandmother's LNAB considering we were using YOUR example as parameters. I said I entered A person, then their parents and then started to enter a grandparent when it found a match. It was not however ME as A person.
See your point Steven. Mea culpa.  I see you're after the ones whee someone used the Current Name instead of Unknown in the LNAB field or my example of a GEDCOM import error.. I also removed my best answer selection.

As there are conventions in the world where the woman retains her LNAB then you have to out weigh the possible false positives to possible actual actual errors.  Also, is the Data Doctor sufficiently knowledgeable to to discern where this convention is invoked or not?  If such a suggestion is made to Aleš list of problems, then a warning should be attached under Special Situations. And cousins do marry and also people of the same name get married, I think I have about 4 or 5 of those situations I have added to WikiTree. However, I do not put her last name in both the LNAB and the Current Last Name as her name never changed.

And it wasn't 'odd' to look at your tree as you gave the example as 'a grandparent' so I assumed it was yours.  Not odd, research on a shared collaborative site. ;)

And ya'll might want to take look at this regarding women and their last names after marriage too.

Maiden and married names

Yesterday, my Carruth-363 record had my spouse last name in the Current Last Name field and a search for my 'Birth' name or my 'Married' Name worked.  I changed my 'Current Last Name field' back to my LNAB and the search still found me when I searched for my 'married' name, so I waited until today to do the same search.  

Today, the search does NOT find my record when I search for my 'married' name, which is what I thought I had found previously, and why I started this G2G discussion.  I am sure the search indexes are probably reset daily, which is why I waited until today to check the search again.
OK what if you put in other last names Laurie?
+6 votes
Irrespective of cultural naming practices etc, you are often going to find you have a reference to John Smith's wife Mary without a maiden name, whether she used it or not.

You need a way to link women with the surnames of their husbands.  But the system doesn't have that capability, because it was assumed that the CLN and OLN fields would do the job.
by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (568k points)

you are often going to find you have a reference to John Smith's wife Mary without a maiden name, whether she used it or not.

answered  by RJ Horace


You're far more likely to find that the woman has totally lost her name and is referred to as "Mrs John Doe", not "John Doe's wife Mary", and definitely not "Mary Doe".  There were women who were buried with their own personal name and their LNAB lost forever, because they were "only" the wife of Mr Bloggs, or Rev Pinchpenny, or Goodman Cooper, and so on.

We need more like Lucy Stone, is what we need.

Sad, isn't it - I hate when I see that too - like they were of no importance - grrr makes me mad
+4 votes
Up my tree I have a brother and sister that married....
by Stephen Norman Craig McCallum G2G6 Mach 2 (23.0k points)
How long ago was that, Stephen?
Latest info has them as cousins.... 1720's....
I have a three-great-aunt who married an unrelated Shaw.

Between 1860 and 1863, her parents and her older brother and sister-in-law died, leaving eight orphaned underage children, including my great-grandfather. A court-appointed tutor (guardian) embezzled the estate, and after the oldest children attained their majority they filed suit against him. That was in 1871.

When the lawsuit was finally settled in 1881, she is referred to in the filed documents as Mary Elizabeth Shaw Shaw. (As the replacement tutor.)
+8 votes

In Sweden it wasn't until 1920 we had a law making it compulsory for women to take a married name. This was relaxed already in 1963.

Some women did married names before 1920, in some circumstances and some parts of the country, when there was a family name.

Where the patronymic system was still in use, which was up past 1900 in some parts of Sweden, the Current Last Name of a woman would always be the same as her Last Name at Birth - because that would be a -dotter name based on the first-name of her father. She remained the daughter of the same father throughout her life. She would never ever take the patronymic of her husband as a married name.
What is needed here is not another DB_error, but a smarter search engine.
by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (436k points)
That might work, if the search engine can use the last name of all linked spouses.
+9 votes
I have to agree that this would be a difficult "suggestion" for people to work as there are so many different cases where having the same last name as the LNAB would be correct.   It would take experts to work those suggestions.   In addition, the women with multiple husbands and what order are they in, which is the correct married name would need a lot of research that most people working suggestions are not willing to do.   I just feel like we have enough suggestions to work right now (over 1 million) and we still have a lot of issues with people working those suggestions without thought.
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (714k points)
Linked spouse last names could be put into the Other Last Name, if someone doesn't know which name was the 'last' one.  That field is also used for searching. Adding a suggestion because we don't have enough is not the 'purpose' of the discussion.  I am seeing more profiles being duplicated, I think, because the 'spouse' name is not in the profile in a 'last name' field somewhere, so the person is not found when searching is done.
+8 votes
If the system was to scrub for this as an "error" it would end up flagging instances that its not.

Case in point - My own maternal grandparents from completely different families both had the surname of KNUDSEN.

My grandmothers LNAB and Current Last Name are KNUDSEN.

This would especially be of significance to anyone of Scandinavian heritage as this would most likely show up most frequently in those profiles.
by Mike Guzzetta G2G6 Mach 4 (40.0k points)
150+ year old Scandinavian profiles would be even less in need of this kind of system, as back then the patronymic names generally were true patronymics, and a woman's second name was determined by her father's name, not her husband's name. Very few people then had modern western style surnames.
This would be looking for instances where LNAB, CLN, and husband's last name all matched. This often happens when the woman's LNAB isn't known at the time the profile is created so they use her married name instead of "unknown".

This would not be an error solely where a woman's CLN doesn't match her husband. This set=up would eliminate about 98% of the false positives while still catching lmost all the actual errors.
R - True - but that is still 150 years of potential confusion.

Steven - In the scenario I used that is the outcome.

My Grandmother - LNAB - Knudsen

My Grandfather - LNAB - Knudsen

My Grandmothers married name (CLN) is also Knudsen in this instance.

The only other option would not to fill in the CLN field if the wife has the same surname as the husband.
Mike, if your grandmother's maiden name and married name is the same, it is not a problem.  

The problem is when the 'married name' is different than the LNAB and that 'married last name' is not in Current Last Name or in Other Last Name.  That person will NOT be found if a search is done for the married name and their profile does NOT have that surname in their profile. I removed my 'married' Last name from my profile Last Name fields as a test and my profile can no longer be found using it.

Hi Linda - Am i misunderstanding the question?

"Could we have a Data Suggestion for Females that have a linked spouse but has Current Last Name the same as LNAB"

To me that would cause the system to flag my grandmother (my example from above) in error. My Grandparents both had the same LNAB and her CLN is also the same, Would she not be flagged as she would be:

  • Female 
  • that has a linked spouse 
  • and has a Current Last Name the same as LNAB
Sorry, I understand your problem.  I revised my initial question and explanation. The problem exists when spouse name is different and is not included in a Last Name field, so married name can’t de found during a search.

The last name of my spouse is not my last name.  Despite people trying to make it so. 

Having some "error" show up saying I need to have his last name as mine so that some (future) DD comes along and changes my CLN to his LN will not be an accurate rendering of what is.

Thanks Linda - I thought I was loosing it for a moment. Now your question makes more sense.

Yes Melanie - Linda edited her question to be more clear - I can see what a issue that is for you and probably many others on WikiTree.

The only thing I could think of that could help clue people in is if the current last name field had a sub status section such as - Kept LNAB, Hyphenated, Kept previous husbands surname, Other.
+12 votes
I'll join the chorus of those who don't want to see this as an error. It's bad enough undoing what helpful people do when adding a current last name to a husbands name now. I would hate to see what happens if it was an error. Québec would become a natural disaster zone.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (425k points)
Agree on the disaster zone!  For any of the french settled areas such as Acadie, New Brunswick and your personal favorite, PEI.
+9 votes
In the Anglo-Scottish Borders, a woman kept her family name and did not adopt her husband’s family name until quite recently. I would only put husband’s name on her profile if evidence of use, such as on a gravestone.
by Chris Little G2G6 Mach 3 (37.0k points)
From a genealogical perspective, adding a married name without evidence is not being a good genealogist. We should NEVER make assumptions.
+4 votes
I totally agree with this idea because if I was going to create "Mary Wells" married to "John Doe" but John Doe has Mary Unknown listed as the spouse I would end up creating a duplicate. I'm wondering if instead of adding the married name, could the parameters of the search include the husband's LNAB? I know that some women don't take the husband's last name but for genealogy purposes it would be easier to find information if the husband's last name was somewhere in the search. I don't recall seeing a census that has the wife with a different last name than the husband.
by Sherry Wells G2G6 Mach 1 (16.6k points)
But if you know her spouse is John Doe, wouldn't you find her connected to him already? In the case of Mary Unknown and Mary Wells you would need to research to see if they are the same person. But in any other case if you know the husband, check his wives. And if you don't know the husband then you probably don't have a married name to look for.
+7 votes
Could we please treat Wikitree as a Worldwide genealogy program that it's supposed to be? There are more countries in the world and yes sometimes the customs are different, embrace that in stead of judging about it.
by Margreet Beers G2G6 Mach 7 (75.7k points)

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